Telly Thursday Does Reruns, Strips & Swimming

Posted on July 18, 2010

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Welcome Re-Runs

Ah the re-run. Such a regular occurrence if you have any form of satellite TV. You switch on Comedy Central or Sky 1 or any of those other channels and find that you’re watching a Simpsons, Bones or Sex & The City that you’ve seen 75 times and can say the lines along with the characters.

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But for those of us with no Sky Plus (Despite George Hook’s insistence that we simply MUST get it) we rely on our normal stations for quality entertainment, which sometimes is a fruitless endeavour. Channel 4 however are doing us all a favour by rerunning the first series of teen drama The Misfits which I missed first time around but intend to catch this time. I think Padraig described it in his Telly Thursday at the time as ‘Skins if it was bitten by a radioactive spider’. Sounds promising to me.

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RTE are following suit and are currently showing reruns of The Thick of It, the truly brilliant, political satire which is so good it almost makes us forget that politicians aren’t really people. Starring Peter Capaldi, whom I’ve yet to see be bad in anything he’s done, The Thick Of It is essential viewing.

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Sometimes, the old stuff is the right stuff.

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Because We Haven’t Plugged A Documentary In A While

So…who the hell is Maurice Mickelwhite? Well actually probably at this stage everyone knows that it’s the unfortunate given name of British legend Michael Caine who, despite only being supposed to “blow the bloody doors off” actually blew the glass out a flat block hundreds of yards away.

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The Man Who Would Be Caine takes a good look at the British thespian’s working class background and charts his success to date. From The Italian Job to his more recent role as Batman’s butler (talk about taking a different car to the Minis…) Caine’s work is always entertaining. So too are his interviews if anyone has ever seen his chats with friend Michael Parkinson, which are pure gold.

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As a Michael Caine fan, this one’s worth going out later on Saturday night for.

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BBC 1 Strips Off

No, the BBC has not taken to showing porn after 12 on the weekends, though it would certainly be a move of extreme diversity for them. Stripped dramas (Series that run over the space of a week) have become something of a trend these last few years, probably the most high profile of these being Gabriel Byrne’s therapy sessions In Treatment. More recently we had Five Days and last years Torchwood also took the format of a stripped drama.

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This week, The Silence is the drama of the week – the story of a young deaf girl who, thanks to a new implant, is boldly cast into the world of being able to hear again. However when she witnesses a murder at a party, she is thrown into a dangerous situation as we discover that the murderer was in fact a police officer. Gripping stuff.

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Dive Dilutes Its Message With Chlorine

With the Olympics coming up in 2012, expect to see drama and comedy geared around it for the next few years. Indeed Doctor Who may have been quickest off the mark with an episode from Series 2 set during that time, and that was almost four years ago.

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Leaving the Doctor aside though (it wasn’t the best DW episode ever written…) Dive takes a serious look at the pressure on young athletes to compete for the games and how their lives revolve around this one competition. It also looks at how the merest injection of deviation from the norm can cause it all to come crashing down around you. Like it does for Lindsey.

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Split into two episodes, the first hour tells Lindsey’s story, her ambition to dive in the Olympics, her parents split-up and her relationship with Robert (Jack O’Connell). New-comer Aisling Loftus is excellent in the role which, at first seems like your standard goodie-two-shoes character but this assumption is quickly dissipated when we see her willingness to have sex against a tree. Without a condom. Despite the fact that the previous scene was a sex-education one. Some people just need it spelled out for them…

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The second episode focuses on Robert. Jack O’Connell, while it might seem like a reprisal of his role of Cooke from Skins is also excellent, particularly in this second episode when the teenager finally realises he must stand up and take responsibility. What’s more is that unlike Lindsey, who has the support of her mother and new boyfriend, Robert must do it on his own after his father seemingly disowns him. This, coupled with Robert’s brother Alex’s return home from Afghanistan makes his household and story a particularly interesting one.

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Sometime in the second episode Robert remarks that “you can’t have it all”. And it’s really what this ambitious drama is all about. By the end however, this statement seems to be turned on its head. Lindsey having quit diving to have her baby, returns after she has given birth and Robert becomes a poolside dad, watching her dive. It’s a scene that somewhat dampens this earlier statement about having everything and it’s something that TV tends to do an awful lot.

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That scene gave an audience an uneasy feeling in their stomach (it’s called realism folks) and in a way emphasised the seriousness of the situation these two kids are in. In ways, it built you up for an unhappy ending which, without being cynical here, can often be the case in teen pregnancies. While the ending is happy for both parents, the manner in which it is executed is a little bit of a cop-out. To make that statement, which is essentially a statement that we live our lives by and then to turn it around at the end somewhat reduces the power of the message this drama was trying to convey.

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Coming full circle back to Doctor Who (strangely enough but I have a point!) at the end of Series 2, we were told Rose could never ever come back and that was it. Two series later, ay-up who’s that then? Rose! For most fans it completely ruined the power of that last scene in Series 2. Dive does a similar thing by diluting one of its main messages.

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This aside, Dive is remarkably well acted and throws up some interesting cultural issues, particularly that of Alex’s return from war. I would have liked to see his character developed a tad more.

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Worth a look for the performances.

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Posted in: Reviews